Battle of Naseby, 14 June 1645

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Decisive Parliamentary victory in the First Civil War, in part decided before the fighting began by the refusal of Lord George Goring to bring his Royalist force from the West Country to join the King in the east midlands.. Fairfax, in command of the Parliamentary Army, had 8,000 men of his own, and on 13 June was joined by Cromwell's army, bringing the Parliamentary force up to 14,000 experienced, well led and confident men, facing 7,500 Royalists, including a large number of un-blooded Welsh levies commanded by Charles I in person, with Prince Rupert in charge of the actual fighting. However, Rupert was opposed to seeking battle at this point, and was overruled by the King, encouraged by his civilian advisors. The two forces manoeuvred overnight, eventually finding themselves facing each other from two low ridges, separated by a shallow dip. The two armies were drawn up in similar order. Cromwell's cavalry on the Parliamentary right faced Sir Marmaduke Langdale's Northern Horse, while Henry Ireton's cavalry on the Parliamentary left faced the experienced cavalry of Prince Rupert, while in the centre Philip Skippon commanded the Parliamentary Infantry, a dour sight opposed to the Royalist centre, commanded by the King.

The two sides were in place by eleven on the morning of 14 June. Prince Rupert began the battle with a charge that pushed back Ireton's cavalry, some of whom fled. Seeing this, the Royalist infantry also advanced, and the Parliamentary centre was forced back. This was the high point of Royalist success. Cromwell, with half of his cavalry, now charged against Langdale, who was himself pushed back. Meanwhile, Rupert, who this time had managed to keep his cavalry on the field, had turned to aid the Royalist cavalry, only to find himself attacked on the flanks by that half of Ireton's cavalry which had not yet engaged. Cromwell now used his remaining, fresh, troops, to drive Langdale's men off the field. That left the Royalist infantry exposed to Cromwell's Ironsides, and under their pressure, the Welsh levies broke, and surrendered in large groups, leaving their officers with no choice but to flee or be captured. The only remaining Royalist forces still fighting were Rupert's Cavalry, who managed to rescue the King, and escape to relative safety in Ashby de la Zouch, some thirty miles from the battlefield. By one in the afternoon, after only two hours of fighting, Parliament had it's victory.

That victory was almost overwhelming. The Parliamentary forces captured the Royalist baggage train, where they captured many of wives of Royalist officers, great amounts of valuables, and perhaps most importantly, the King's entire correspondence. Charles I was left without any infantry, with his guns lost to the victorious Parliament, and with his cavalry scattered. Three days later, the Royalist garrison of Leicester surrendered, and with them Charles lost his remaining arms. In the aftermath of the defeat, many of the remaining Royalist garrisons surrendered. Although Goring's Western army remained intact until the battle of Langport (10 July 1645), Naseby ended any realistic hopes of a Royalist victory. It also raised the profile and prestige of Oliver Cromwell, whose Ironsides had played the most obvious role in Parliament's victory.

cover The English Civil War , Richard Holmes & Peter Young, an early work by one of the country's best known military historians, this is a superb single volume history of the war, from its causes to the last campaigns of the war and on to the end of the protectorate. cover cover cover

See Also
Books on the English Civil War
Subject Index: English Civil War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (8 April 2001), Battle of Naseby, 14 June 1645, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_naseby.html
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